“A new era begins for the Justice Society of America as writers Bill Willingham (FABLES) and Matthew Sturges (BLUE BEETLE) take over the series with new artist Jesus Merino (SUPERMAN ANNUAL) just as two new recruits make their debut with the team!”
That quote comes from the solicit for this issue. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. This is the dawn of a new era. The new creative team has some big shoes to fill. Geoff Johns’ run on the book was long and highly regarded. And while Dale Eaglesham’s run was shorter, it was no less distinguished.
It’s hard to really judge this issue on it’s own. Willingham and Sturges have an immense cast to work with. As can be expected, this issue is largely set-up for the stories the two writers want to tell. However, the set-up is very well handled. And the issue does not want for action.
As the solicit above indicates, the JSA cast has actually been expanded to include two new characters! Given the limited space available, the introductions are well done. And the rest of the cast each get a moment in the spotlight. The characterizations for the familiar JSAers feel correct. In fact, the issue reads a lot like a Geoff Johns comic.
In addition to the introduction of new characters, Willingham and Sturges set up an interesting mystery, a huge blow-out battle with an army of (mostly C-list) villains and end with a cliffhanger that grabs your attention. Very few comics are as jam-packed as this one.
Recently, it’s been announced that JSA is splitting off into two books; one by Willingham and one by Sturges. Given the size of the cast, that’s probably a good idea. And the seeds for that move are sown in this issue.
Though I miss Dale Eaglesham’s art, Jesus Merino shows a lot of promise. He handles a throw-down between two army-sized teams. And yet, I always knew who was who and what was going on. I look forward to seeing his work grow in future issues.
Only time will tell if this new era will be as enjoyable as the one before it. But if the first issue is any indicator, there’s reason to believe it will be.